Review: Santa Maria

Quinns: There’s quite a bit of buzz around Santa Maria. “Buzz!” spake this box as it arrived in my flat like a gentle but hefty bumblebee, excited to alight on my table.

Paul: OH GOD WHERE’S THE SPRAY QUICK OPEN A WINDO-

Quinns: It’s fiiiine Paul! This is something we can safely let into our homes to flit happily about, to land on our tables or to watch us from the shelves with its compound eyes. Santa Maria is quite harmless!

Paul: Harmless and… perhaps toothless?

Popping open the almost cartoonishly cute box, which appears to depict Santa Claus as armoured as he is jolly, we’ve got dice! We’ve got charming wooden tokens! We’ve got wonky jungle tiles! We’ve got… is this the terrifying face of an inflated baby, about to burst?!


Review: Bargain Quest

eaten by a witch, the realm of retail, doritos: cool original
Who's ready to make a sale? Bargain Quest is a game about running a shop in a fantasy world, and figuring out the best way to empty the pockets of doomed heroes. Though if they actually manage to slay the dragon? Well, that's just free marketing.

Better yet, Bargain Quest is Matt's new favourite way to get newbies involved in the joys of board gaming. But will he sell Quinns on it? That boy's a famously tough customer...

The Sushi Go Party! review mentioned in the review can be found right here. Thanks to Dice Saloon here in Brighton for letting us film. They're an awesome, friendly shop with a ton of free play space, and locals should check them out.


Review: Space Base

admirable admirals, a cheeky tug, the insurmountable greed of your nasty space-friends
Quinns: Ever since team Shut Up & Sit Down first borrowed a camcorder and began proselytising and/or squawking about board games, we’ve been borrowing a line from designer Sid Meier. “A good game is a series of interesting decisions.”

But is this true? Six year later, I'm pretty sure that sometimes a good game is one where you roll dice and then nice stuff happens, or perhaps you own a spaceship(!).

Well HOLD ONTO YOUR PANTS, because in the newly-released Space Base all of these things are true. Each player starts with 12 ships that are straining at their docking clamps like greyhounds before a race, and you’re going to be shrewdly dispatching them across the galaxy for profit and points.

What you’re really doing, though, is designing a slot machine. Won't you listen to me squawk about Space Base? I really like this game.


Review: Decrypto

The cat fell asleep, etymilogical detective, CUMBERBATCH FROM EGGS
Paul: I have never, in my life, seen so much frantic, last-minute lying. I’ve never seen so many misunderstandings over cake. I’ve never thought I’d have to explain to someone how oil is obviously, indisputably associated with Texas. And I never thought a tiny misunderstanding over a simple word like “heat” could, and would, ruin everything.

But that’s Decrypto for you, a game of discord and deception that somehow ends up fraught, funny and absolutely fantastic. It sets you the simplest of challenges and creates the most convoluted complications as you and your friends try to tell secrets out in the open, right in front of each other.


Review: Fog of Love

cuddling in the ballroom, crying in a park, is it getting hot in here?
As if it were needed, Jacob Jaskov's Fog of Love is definitive proof that board games can be sexy, and it's finally in shops the world over. But there's more to this box than just sex! For example, there's sometimes a troubling absence of sex. Sometimes there's heartbreak. And sometimes, just sometimes, there's true love.

Don't let this game be "The one that got away," everybody. Take a look at our definitive review, and see if it's for you.


Review – Isle of Skye: Journeyman

things we want from the second expansion:, bairns, potato cakes, teacakes, limmy
Quinns: Two years on from Paul’s bucolic Isle of Skye review (ft. his family cookie recipe), Matt and I have finally taken a stroll through this game’s wonky Scottish islands. And you know what? We’re both as charmed as Paul was. Isle of Skye is a sweet, rich game of buying and selling squares of land like so much dense shortbread, and I’d recommend it to anybody.

As this site’s #1 expansion fan, I’m thrilled to say that today we’re looking at Isle of Skye’s first expansion! It’s Isle of Skye: Journeyman. With it, no longer are you just mapping an island. Journeyman adds a wooden “best mate” who waddles around your island, diligently studying everything from cows to ponds.

But the first thing to say is that this expansion changes the tenor of the experience faster than a fart at a funeral.


Review – Sidereal Confluence: Trading and Negotiation in the Elysian Quadrant

swapping skittles, being wasps, taking the victory points from both of your legs
Think you've seen it all? THINK AGAIN.

Sidereal Confluence: Trading and Negotiation in the Elysian Quadrant might have a silly name, but this hybrid sci-fi/negotiation/economic game is no joke. Whether you're playing space-wasps, space-squids or space-school teachers, it's going to demand every ounce of intelligence you can muster.

Have you got what it takes? There's actually a good chance you don't.


Review: A Tale of Pirates

billy's bad cannoning, some criminal lemons, a pedalo in space
Quinns: You’re looking at A Tale of Pirates. More specifically, you’re looking at a 3D pirate ship, a load of sand timers and an accompanying app. And before we get to how all of this fits together, let me add that you’re looking at a great little game.

Last year a lot of people got excited about Kitchen Rush, a real time game where players place sand timers to run a chaotic restaurant together. If Kitchen Rush was any more up our street it’d be banging on our front door, but actually, we found the video game Overcooked to be more entertaining and cheaper.

A Tale of Pirates is similar to Kitchen Rush, but instead of 2-4 players popping their sand timers down to go shopping or cook a bouillabaisse, 2-4 players are placing sand timers to load a cannon or climb the crow’s nest of their very own ship. But more importantly, they’re working together to unlock the next level in a very playful campaign.


Review: Gaia Project

a bloated boxer, a wibbly purple, a wonky illustration, interstellar nutella
Quinns: Everybody, stand up from your chairs! Pull up your pants. Spit out that gum. An esteemed classic has returned.

We reviewed fantasy town-building game Terra Mystica back in 2013 and found ourselves submerged in strategic nirvana. Today 28,000 people have rated it on BoardGameGeek, awarding it in an average of 8.3 out of 10. That’s shockingly high considering just how complicated and odd Terra Mystica is, with its challenging puzzle squished in between ugly mermaids and magic bowls. But there you have it! It’s just that enjoyable.

This week we’re looking at the sequel, Gaia Project, which is a big deal in more ways than one. As well as swapping Terra Mystica’s musty fantasy for a sci-fi backdrop, it’s more expensive, more complicated and demands significantly more table space. All set up, you’re looking at an asteroid belt of iconography.


Spoiler-Free Review – Pandemic Legacy: Season 2

is it still "cosplay" if it's this bad, leaving numbers behind, rose-tinted goggles
A mere 700 days later and IT'S HERE! Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 is the sequel to our game of 2015, Pandemic Legacy, and it's even more ambitious than the first game. Not only is this box heavier and more expensive, it tells a far more complicated story.

But what do we think? Has the lightning of genius smote this particular property once again? Or does Season 2 feel like a difficult second album?

If we were you, we'd take a deep breath, click play and find out.